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The Best Young Forwards In The East

<a href="" target="new">Click here for the full-sized version</a>.  Click the link, not the picture.
Click here for the full-sized version. Click the link, not the picture.

Author's Note: Due to a major Excel faux pas, the original chart was incorrect. Corrections have been made and the chart has been updated.

Click here for the full-sized version

Put together a giant comparison of the best young defenders in the game and what happens? Readers want to see the same comparison for forwards.

Each bubble in the graph above represents the the possession metrics of a young forward (or an alternative suggested in those various discussions, or a data point for comparison's sake only) in the NHL. This chart is limited to forward with a minimum of 40 games played in 2011-12. Those players include Artem Anisimov, Luke Adam, Josh Bailey, Alexander Burmistrov, Jordan Caron, Brett Connolly, Sean Couturier, David Desharnais, Kaspars Daugavins, Lars Eller, Tyler Ennis, Matt Frattin, Nathan Gerbe, Michael Grabner, Carl Hagelin, Adam Henrique, Cody Hodgson, Jacob Josefson, Marcus Johansson, Evander Kane, Phil Kessel, Louis Leblanc, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Shawn Matthias, Nino Niederreiter, Kyle Okposo, Max Pacioretty, Matthieu Perreault, Matt Read, Brayden Schenn, Mike Santorelli, Tyler Seguin, Jack Skille, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Brandon Sutter, Steven Stamkos, Derek Stepan, John Tavares, Mattias Tedenby, Jiri Tlusty, Kyle Turris, James van Riemsdyk, and Jakub Voracek.

The horizontal axis shows qualcomp, specifically Corsi relative quality of competition taken from the venerable and terrifying Gabriel Desjardins' The vertical axis shows percentage of percentage of faceoffs taken in the defensive zone, again from the venerable and terrifying one. The bubbles are color-coded: blue means the player in the bubble has a positive zonestart-adjusted Corsi, white a negative. Finally, the size of the bubble indicates absolute value for zonestart-adjusted Corsi. All of the caveats about comparing these numbers between teams stand, but the chart is still a useful jumping-off point for analysis and discussion.

  • Compared to the group as a whole, Jordan Staal and Brandon Sutter play a very different role, and Sutter plays an even more specifically-defined role. Sutter is breaking even with ~65% defensive zone starts and playing tough competition. He's the prototype for "young checking center".
  • The next thing that jumps off the page is the spread in zonestarts for John Tavares and Nino Niederreiter. Niederreiter, recognized by Oilers' fans as Paajarvi-East, struggled to score this season, and looking at his zonestarts might be a clue as to why.
  • Now look at the difference in responsibilities between Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn. Couturier is being treated like a younger Jordan Staal, but two years ahead of when Staal got the shutdown role.
  • Steven Stamkos and Phil Kessel had very similar starting circumstances, competition and results. They were protected by stronger lines and produced career highs in goals.
  • Jeff Skinner, Tyler Seguin and Thomas Vanek were closely bunched around Stamkos and Kessel by circumstance, but not results.
  • It would be nice to say the Leafs should be pleased with Frattin's results, but remember, he's already 24 years old.
  • I'd still like to hear any sane reason behind trading for Jack Skille.